Transport Minister criticised for failing to exempt rescue crews from tolls – Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has criticised Transport Minister Shane Ross for refusing to exempt voluntary sea and river search vehicles from having to pay road tolls.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh was reacting to Minister Ross’s reply to a parliamentary question he had tabled having been contacted by voluntary rescue crews involved recently in the search for the missing Coast Guard personnel who were lost at sea when their helicopter Rescue 116 crashed off the Mayo coast in April.
Deputy Snodaigh said:
“The cost to voluntary rescue crews travelling on tolled road places an unnecessary financial burden on men and women who provide a vital service to the State when an emergency occurs.
“In the Minister’s reply to my question, he confirmed that only ambulance, fire brigade vehicles, and vehicles used by members of An Garda Síochána or the Defence Forces are exempt from having to pay road tolls.
“The Minister went on to explain that voluntary and community organisations such as river and sea rescue have to pay road tolls in order to ensure the ‘fair and robust system of tolling enforcement’. He also claimed that exempting the voluntary and community sector from tolls would incur a ‘cost to the Exchequer as the PPP toll operators would have to be reimbursed for losses’.
“Considering the vital role voluntary sea and rescue organisations play in often hazardous circumstances, I believe any cost to the Exchequer incurred by exempting them from road tolls or at the very least reimbursing theme to for tolls is totally justified. Indeed, it is reprehensible that they are expected to pay road tolls en route to assisting in emergencies and I will be looking at tabling an amendment to the existing legislation that would address this matter.”